Most (non-autistic) people have jumped to the conclusion that autistic people must be loving the isolation because we don’t have to go out and socialise with people. They would be wrong. Ok, in my case partially right because it means I don’t have to go out and socialise with anyone. However, it is effecting a lot of autistic people negatively.
1. Change of routine.
Most autistic people hate a sudden change in routine and it throws everything out of balance. This hasn’t affected me because, being in the uk, I could see it coming and had at least a few days to prepare for it mentally and emotionally. Sudden change in routine is when it hits me and I would have reacted extremely badly if there had been no foreshadowing of isolation having to happen. However, it’s irritating me that I won’t get my bi-monthly visit from my mum and nephews as this is the only time I get to see them due to distance. I also lie to go see my partners mum and her pets, it’s something to look forward to and an excuse to get some fresh air.
2. Home-life situations.
I live alone with my cat so being at home all day is mainly nice and peaceful. Some autistic people do not have this luxury. With parents now home from work 24/7, siblings back from university or off school the safe, quiet space of home has now been invaded and destroyed. They’re actually socialising more at home now than if they went outside and there’s no escape from it (unless you’re lucky enough to have a lock on your bedroom door and an understanding family).
3. Access to support.
People with care workers or support workers may find themselves without access to those people if they live with family as autistic people can often be classed as not needing this support framework in these times, especially when classed as ‘high-functioning’. This can often be further from the truth and it’s very ableist of society to think that we look ok so we must be ok.
I don’t think I have come across and autistic person yet who doesn’t have some issues with food. For me there’s a lot of things I can’t eat as they make me very ill, I’m also allergic to peaches and yoghurt and I am lactose intolerant, making food shopping irritating at the best of times. When people are clearing the shelves of the few things I can eat then what am I supposed to eat? Luckily, the only shop in the area that sells lactose free stuff was still fully stocked of that plus a lot of vegan food was left untouched so I grabbed a few things to tide me over. For others it can be a lot harder. My partners teenage son will only eat about three things normally, luckily he has added bacon sandwiches and Shepard’s pie to what he’ll eat at the minute so his mum has stocked the freezer with those. I also can’t get any online deliveries so, as much as need to be isolated because I also have underlying health conditions, I have to go out for food once a week.
These are the four main things I can think of (I hadn’t planned the content of this post and I’m thinking as I write) but I’m sure there are many other things. Imagine when you feel irritated or anxious about something, multiply that by ten and that’s somewhere close to how one of these things affects me so times it again by four and that’s somewhere near to how on edge this whole situation is making me feel. I also seem to have some form of demand avoidance (I’ll try and talk about this in more detail at some point), which is not being able to do what you are asked to or know you need to do. Because I know I need to stay inside and not going anywhere means being inside is making me want to go and do, well, anything. I am trying to channel this into something positive by clearing my garden and I’m going to get some weatherproofer paint for the wooden bench I have outside then I can always go and sit in the garden and read or write.
I hope everyone is being safe in these times. I applaud those of you who have no choice but to go out to work when you would rather be with families. If anyone is struggling there are a lot of online resources available to you. Some places are doing online counselling sessions, universities are doing free courses to help keep you busy. Check out Joe Wicks at 9am GMT who is doing half an hour workouts to join in with. Chester zoo did a live virtual tour today so check out other zoo websites to see if they have anything planned. And if you need anyone know that I’m here, you can comment or message me. I’m on Facebook and Twitter @adultwithautism if you want to get a hold of me there.